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I finally cracked and bought a cordless iron.
There was nothing that wrong with my everyday Shark iron or my small Steamfast Mini, but having cords everywhere drove me crazy!
I really wanted more flexibility in my sewing space, and I wanted to stop fumbling with cords.
So I searched, searched some more, and finally decided to buy two of the more popular cordless irons available.
After trying them out, I have a definite favorite, which stays in my sewing room, while the other lives in the laundry room.
Looking for the best cordless iron for sewing and quilting and aren’t sure where to start?
Check out my thoughts on the two I own and the ones I considered but didn’t purchase. Plus, information on what to look for and how brands and models of cord-free irons differ.
PSA: Cordless Irons Aren’t 100% Cordless
I read many cordless iron reviews before purchasing mine, and one thing that seems consistent among the poor reviews is people think these irons are 100% battery-powered and can iron without electricity.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
While the iron itself is technically cordless and you can press projects without worrying about cords, you must still plug in the iron base.
The iron will lose heat every minute or two, and you must place it on the base to heat it back up before you can use it again.
So, if you’re expecting a battery-powered iron that can travel with you and not require electricity, a cordless crafting iron is not the answer.
How Cordless Irons for Quilting Differ
When I started my journey for the best cordless iron for my craft corner, I made a list of how they all differed and decided which features were necessary and which weren’t worth the added cost.
Here’s how cordless quilting irons differ!
1. Soleplate Material
Like corded sewing irons, the soleplates of cordless irons are made of various materials.
For example, stainless steel, ceramic, or nickel-coated stainless steel.
Different materials have different pros and cons, so consider how you plan to use your iron and which material benefits you most.
2. Double-Tipped or Single-Tipped Soleplate
The newest Panasonic cordless irons are pretty nifty in that they’re reversible–they have points on both sides that are mirror images!
This contrasts with traditional single-pointed irons, which can only press in one direction, which is less efficient when opening quilted seams.
I splurged more for my Panasonic cordless iron to try out this feature.
It was a little disconcerting initially to retrain decades of ironing with a single-point iron, but I’ve found it fun and surprisingly helpful now!
3. Sole Plate and Reservoir Size
The dimensions of the sole plate (the metal iron base) determine how much area you can press at a time and thus how long it takes to iron a length of fabric.
As you see in the picture above comparing my three irons, most cordless irons are significantly smaller than corded irons!
Also, most manufacturer specs give the dimensions of the iron with the base included, so these numbers may be misleading as they don’t represent the size of just the iron.
Meanwhile, reservoir size refers to how much water an iron holds.
Larger reservoir sizes correlate with a longer time you can steam without refilling.
One thing to note about cordless irons is they do not hold as much water as everyday corded irons since they’re smaller. (They hold more than mini-crafting irons, at least!)
4. Reheat Time and Initial Heat Time
Each cordless iron needs a set amount of time between each pressing session to reheat to its maximum temperature.
Some iron manufacturers boast their irons reheat in under 10 seconds, while others leave this information off their manufacturer specs.
If your quilting project requires a frequently hot iron and you hate waiting, purchase a cordless iron with a short reheat time.
Also, if you like instant gratification, choose an iron with a short initial heating time.
5. How Long the Iron Stays Hot
Since cordless irons don’t have a constant supply of electricity to keep them warm, there is a finite time (usually a few minutes or less) before the iron loses its heat.
Afterward, you must place the iron back on the heating base to reheat.
I chose a cordless iron with one of the longer time ranges because I don’t like to be delayed when quilting or sewing.
6. Auto Shut-off Time
As a safety feature, cordless irons have preset times after which the bases shut off, which means the iron no longer heats.
I prefer the longer shut-off time of 30 minutes to many of the 10-minute options because I don’t always need my iron frequently and hate having to wait to reheat.
7. Voltages and Different Models Worldwide
Since different countries have different voltages, check for an appropriate voltage for your requirements.
Also, different brands are more predominant in specific countries.
For example, the cordless iron producer with the best reviews and most options in the USA is Panasonic, whereas, in the UK and some European countries, Morphy Richards is the most prominent (and not even available in the US!)
Cordless irons are not as high of wattage as top-tier corded irons.
The highest wattages are generally 1500W, so check this parameter before purchasing.
I’ve also seen some Amazon descriptions of wattage that don’t match manufacturer website specs, so double-check before purchasing.
9. Storage Case
If you plan to travel to classes or sewing retreats with your iron, choose a model with a convenient plastic storage case and carrier.
Best Cordless Irons for Sewing and Quilting
Check out the reviews of the two cordless quilting irons I own, as well as summaries of other options available and why they didn’t fit as perfectly for my craft room needs!
- Soleplate: Nickle-coated stainless steel and double tipped
- Water tank: 5.4 fl oz
- Wattage: 1500 W
- Auto shut-off time: 30 min
There are two current versions of the Panasonic NI-QL1000 cordless iron–NI-QL1000A (blue) and NI-QL1000G (teal)–which are identical in everything but color.
I have the blue one, simply because it was a few dollars cheaper when I purchased it.
Pros that drew me to purchase this iron specifically were:
- The 30 min auto shut-off is longer than other Panasonic cordless models and other brands’ models. This was my main deciding point!
- The water reservoir is detachable, which makes fill-up easier.
- The cord is retractable, which makes carrying and cleanup easier.
I’ve not loved the stainless steel soleplate of my old Shark iron, so I wasn’t necessarily in love with the idea of a nickel-plated stainless steel soleplate. (I thought I might want ceramic.)
However, I’ve so far gotten no permanent scratches or goo, and the iron glides SO smoothly over fabric without distorting it.
As for adhesives and melting, I recently ironed some felt at the highest temperature (oops!), which understandably made a mess of the sole plate.
I got out my Bo-Nash iron cleaning sheets, and the mess was gone in no time. (If you’ve never heard of these and are a distracted ironer like me, buy them now. Seriously.)
Things I wish were a little different:
- The iron cannot stand upright by itself, so if you need to rest it briefly, it must rest at a horizontal angle in the base. (This is because it’s double-tipped and reversible.)
- It would be nice if the iron had a slightly larger soleplate and stayed hotter longer, but I understand enough physics to know the technological limitations here.
- It’s very pricey.
- There are only 3 temperatures, so this isn’t great if you need fine tuning.
- Having a longer cord would be more convenient, but 6 ft is standard for all of these irons.
- I prefer the cord location closer to the front tip of the iron rather than on the backside.
- Water tank: 6.09 fl oz
- Wattage: 1200 W
- Auto shut-off time: 8 min
- Initial heat-up time: 30 sec
- Reheat time: 7 sec (or so they say; mine takes longer!)
While the Steamfast SF-760 isn’t technically better than some of the irons below this, I rank it so highly because it’s an inexpensive cordless iron for crafters on a budget.
Now, I have had my Steamfast SF-727 mini iron for three years now (it’s my second one–I dropped the first and broke it), and it’s been a handy friend.
Thus, I also purchased the Steamfast for comparison purposes, as it was about 1/3 the price of the Panasonic.
It’s a decent enough iron, but it’s now the much less used iron of the two and is in my laundry room.
One big thing I didn’t like is it boasts a 7-second reheat time, but the time the blinking red reheat light stays on before shutting off is closer to 20 seconds.
Whether this is an issue with the light or the iron really takes that long to reheat, I don’t know.
However, I will say that while the manufacturer says the iron only stays hot for 30 seconds, it will iron for much longer than that–up to 2 minute–if I don’t need steam.
Now, reasons I don’t like the Steamfast as much as the Panasonic cordless iron:
- The auto shut-off time is a very, very depressing 8 minutes!
- It’s only 1200 watts.
- The soleplate is single-tipped, which some users could take or leave, I know.
- The iron doesn’t always lock into place on the base without extra attention to the fit.
- The water reservoir isn’t detachable, so you have to fill with water straight into the iron. Even with the provided cup, I still make a mess sometimes!
- The cord isn’t retractable, but there is a space on the base to cram the cord for storage. However, the cord must be crammed with no pieces hanging out or the storage case won’t latch.
Reasons it may be preferable to the Panasonic iron for some users:
- The Steamfast iron itself is lighter than the Panasonic. As someone with a connective tissue disease that affects my hands, I understand how this could be a perk for some users.
- There’s a large range of temperatures that can be selected with a turn dial vs. only three finite temperatures on the Panasonic.
- The water reservoir is slightly larger and will last slightly longer for steam-loving quilters.
- It’s so much less expensive!
- Soleplate: Stainless steel and double-tipped.
- Water tank: 4.9 fl oz
- Wattage: 1500 W
- Auto shut-off time: 10 min
It seems like the Panasonic NI-WL600 has now replaced the NI-L70SR, which was the single-tipped iron at this price level.
Compared to the NI-QL1000, the Panasonic NLW600 is less featured in these two ways:
- Smaller water tank (4.9 oz vs. 5.4 oz)
- 10-minute auto shut-off vs. 30 min auto shut-off (dealbreaker for me if I’m going to spend this much on an iron!)
It also has a stainless steel soleplate rather than the coated soleplate of the NI-QL1000, but I know people have their material preferences.
However, one way I think it does beat out my NI-QL1000 is having a better cord location on the base.
- Soleplate: Ceramic and single-tipped
- Water tank: 11.84 fl oz
- Wattage: 1500 W
- Reheat time: 25 sec
The OMAIGA cordless iron is affordable, has a comparably humongous water tank, is 1500W, and would also be an excellent addition to your quilting room!
One other perk is the iron stands upright on the base.
As someone whose muscle memory has me continually wanting my iron upright, this could be a perk. Instead, I’m always fighting to remember to lay mine down at a slight angle in the base.
However, here are the reasons I did not purchase this iron:
- It takes 25 seconds to reheat after pressing; unfortunately, you only have 60 seconds guaranteed of heating time.
- Reviews further state that the 60 seconds of heat time don’t necessarily mean you can steam for the full 60 seconds.
- The grammar on their Amazon page is horrific, which leads me to think it’s not a very big company or one with US ties.
- Wattage: 1500 W
- Ironing time: 25 seconds only!
- Reheat time: 10-15 sec
Like the OMAIGA cordless iron, the Black + Decker ICL500 has an upright charging base.
It also gets decent reviews, although many users complain about the shorter 25-second ironing time! (25 seconds isn’t a big deal if you’re piecing blocks and only need to iron a few seams, but if you are ironing more than that, you may not have the heat you need to finish.)
However, what deterred me from this iron was that few quantitative details were available.
For example, even after even reading the manual, I could never determine how long the iron remained on before automatically shutting off and how big the touted “large water tank” was.
If the price was under $50, I might have taken a risk not knowing this information, but since it wasn’t, I decided not to.
While cordless irons aren’t necessarily a must-have sewing supply, they sure are helpful, and I highly recommend them.
They have limitations, so just make sure these won’t interfere with your crafty needs.
Now, I hope you’ve found the best cordless quilting iron to add to your sewing space and that these reviews helped you discern the details between the different models.